Thoughts about the SCSC Session: “New Approaches to the Radical Reformation”

Thoughts about the SCSC Session: “New Approaches to the Radical Reformation”

Here are a few bibliographical notes related to my contribution to the roundtable on 1 Nov. 2018 in Albuquerque, NM…

I have 3 proposals for the future of Radical Reformation Studies:

  1. Scholars shouldn’t study the Radical Reformation any longer, except as a once-inspiring and now very problematic heuristic tool or historiographical category.
  2. In its place, scholars of early modern “radicalism” (however understood) should study the transformation of new religious movements into established churches, which in turn were challenged in time by movements of reformers / freethinkers / heretics / dissenters / competing factions (or whatever).
  3. The study of transformations from movements to institutions to movements puts the study of heresy and dissent into a broader framework by reconnecting it with the study of confessionalization / confessional cultures, and by encouraging scholar of the German Reformations to join conversations with other scholars of early modern radicalisms.

  1. Scholars shouldn’t study the Radical Reformation any longer, except as a once-inspiring and now very problematic heuristic tool or historiographical category.
    • M. Driedger, “Against ‘the Radical Reformation’: On the Continuity between Early Modern Heresy-Making and
      Modern Historiography” in Radicalism and Dissent in the World of Protestant Reform. Eds. Bridget
      Heal and Anorthe Kremers. Göttingen: Vandenhoeck & Ruprecht, 2017, pp. 139-161.
    • M. Driedger, “Thinking inside the Cages: Norman Cohn, Anabaptist Münster, and Polemically Inspired Assumptions about Apocalyptic Violence” in Nova Religio 21:4 (May 2018), 38-62.
  2. In its place, scholars of early modern “radicalism” (however understood) should study the transformation of new religious movements into established churches, which in turn were challenged in time by movements of reformers / freethinkers / heretics / dissenters / competing factions (or whatever).
    • Specifically on this dynamic in early 16th-century German history, see Hans-Jürgen Goertz’s work on religious movements, the radical Luther, anticlericalism, and Reformation history in general.
    • For a general sociological view of this dynamic in Christianity, see the work of David Martin, the British sociologist of religion. A good introduction is David Cayley’s interview with Martin (https://www.cbc.ca/radio/ideas/the-myth-of-the-secular-part-2-1.3143513).
    • For more about this dynamic in early modern dissenter communities (mostly in 17th-century Amsterdam), see the work of Leszek Kolakowski (Christians without churches, and the antinomies of religious freedom).
  3. The study of transformations from movements to institutions to movements puts the study of heresy and dissent into a broader framework by reconnecting it with the study of confessionalization / confessional cultures, and by encouraging scholar of the German Reformations to join conversations with other scholars of early modern radicalisms.
    • Nicholas Terpstra. Religious Refugees in the Early Modern World: An Alternative History of the Reformation. New York: Cambridge University Press, 2015.
      • For an even more global view, see Merry Wiesner-Hanks, ed., Religious Transformations in the Early Modern World: A Brief History with Documents. Boston and New York: Bedford / St. Martin’s, 2009.
    • Glenn Burgess and Matthew Festenstein, eds., English Radicalism, 1550-1850. Cambridge, UK ; New York: Cambridge University Press, 2007.
    • Ethan Shagan, The Rule of Moderation: Violence, Religion, and the Politics of Restraint in Early Modern England. Cambridge; New York: Cambridge University Press, 2011.
    • Margaret Jacob, The Radical Enlightenment: Pantheists, Freemasons, and Republicans. London: Allen & Unwin, 1981.
    • Jonathan Israel, Radical Enlightenment: Philosophy and the Making of Modernity, 1650-1750. Oxford: Oxford University Press, 2001.

Other links:

  • “Amsterdamnified”: Gary Waite and Mike Driedger’s collaborative research project on “Religious Dissenters, Spiritualist Ideas and Urban Associationalism in the Emergence of the Early Enlightenment in England and the Low Countries, 1540-1700” (http://amsterdamnified.ca/project/)
  • Special issue special issue on “Reframing the History of New Religious Movements,” Nova Religio 21:4 (May 2018) (available online at http://nr.ucpress.edu/content/21/4/5)
  • Emodir: The Research Group in Early Modern Dissents and Radicalism (https://emodir.hypotheses.org/)

 

New publications about Ana/baptist Münster

New publications about Ana/baptist Münster

NOTE: This post will focus on literature from approximately the last 10 years (i.e., since the publication of Bernhard Rothmann and the Reformation in Münster).

More literature is on the way. Stay tuned. (LAST UPDATED: 12 May 2018)

Read more

The Blasphemy of Jan of Leiden: A research plan

The Blasphemy of Jan of Leiden: A research plan

ORIGINAL POST (May 2017): The Blasphemy of Jan of Leiden is the oldest text by Menno Simons, and it indicates that he was an early opponent of the Anabaptists of Münster. This, at least, has long been the consensus view about early Mennonite history. A challenge for researchers, however, is that the oldest copy of The Blasphemy is from 1627. This post introduces a project to find out more about this 1627 text.

UPDATE (April 2018): The transcription project is still in planning. Brookelnn Cooper has completed her archival research and is now working on her MA paper, tentatively titled “Identifying the Anonymous Printer of Menno Simons’ The Blasphemy of Jan van Leiden (1627): A Typographical Analysis.”

Read more

Photos of Ana/Baptist Münster

This picture was taken from the flagstone memorial in the Prinzipalmarkt (see the picture below).

1. St. Lamberti Church.

Read more

Münster / Monster: A Twitter Essay

MuensterMonster-Storify-2015

Read more

Executed today: 4 June 1535

Inspired by the Twitter hashtags #executedtoday and #onthisday, I have been looking through the Global Anabaptist-Mennonite Encyclopedia Online (gameo.org) from time to time. Today I came across this note in the GAMEO article by Irwin Horst on “England”:

The first Anabaptists in England, according to various polemical treatments written in the 17th century and later, came from Holland subsequent to the seditious uprising at Amsterdam on 10 May 1535 (A Short History of the Anabaptists, 1642, 48). The source of this information is Lambertus Hortensius, a Dutch ecclesiastic and chronicler, who lived contemporary with the events and whose Tumultuum Anabaptisticarum was first printed at Basel in 1548, but he nowhere holds that these Anabaptists were the original ones in England. The 25 Dutch Anabaptists arrested and brought to trial at St. Paul’s on 25 May 1535, 14 of whom were condemned and burned at London and other English towns on 4 June 1535, may have been members of the party mentioned by Hortensius.

I am noting Horst’s work here so I can find it again on a rainy day and look into this further. Please let me know if you know anything more about the early history of English “Anabaptism”.

The Anabaptist Attack on Amsterdam’s City Hall

Read more

The siege of Oldeklooster, 1535: A turning-point in Mennonite history

(Click the images for more details.)

Read more